If you’ve ever wondered where your life you be now if you made a different choice a month, a year, or two years ago, if you’ve ever spent days or weeks worrying over one small decision, or if you spend a lot of time thinking “what if,” then this musical is for you.
With music by Tom Kitt, books and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, and directed and choreographed by Valerie Rachelle, “If/Then” follows Elizabeth, played by Katie Bullock, moving back to New York after divorcing her husband. There, she is faced with a choice: follow her friend Kate’s (played by Sarah Green) advice and pursue personal fulfillment while going by the name Liz, or go with Lucas (played by Hunter Sims Douglas) and pursue more professional interests while going by her old college nickname Beth.
All this happens within the first ten minutes of the show. The rest of the performance follows the two mirroring storylines of “Liz” and “Beth,” as the two lives alternate before the audience. “Liz” goes on to date Josh (played by Tyler Page), and “Beth” goes on to work for Stephen (Scottie Tsubota).
Because of the fast-paced nature of the show, the sets themselves were small enough where ensemble and run crew could transport it on and off stage with ease. Because of the minimalistic sets and props, the setting didn’t distract from the scene at hand, and thus left some of it up to the audience’s imagination. The set also included a rolling staircase that led the cast members to a balcony that could be used as a second floor/rooftop location, making great use of layers.
While there seemed to be some problems with the microphones at first, the singing was filled with so much raw emotion, with one song even producing a stunned silence from the audience until they remembered to clap. The voices of Katie Bullock and Tyler Page were filled with so much power that one was able to get lost in the music. Combined with the orchestra, conducted by Karl Iverson, they were able to produce a spectacular performance.
What made the show was the ensemble. Each actor made their character unique, with every scene being a delight to watch. Not only was there Liz/Beth’s story being told, but you could also see the ensemble was living out their lives too. Though not too distracting, everywhere you looked, there was always something happening in different parts of the stage.
With each scene bringing me to tears because of how real it was and how close it hit to home, I would give this musical a solid 8.5. The difficult nature of the show required actors to be moving on and off stage with urgency and efficiency, which they did in a spectacular manner. Every layer of the show, from the actors to the orchestra to the ensemble helped bring out the show’s big message: continue to live and thrive on the path you’re going on, instead of dwelling on the paths you could’ve taken.
“If/Then” will be playing at the SOU Main Stage Theater. With evening shows on Thursday, February 27, Friday, February 28, and Saturday, February 29 at 8 pm, and matinee shows on Saturday, February 29 and Sunday, March 1 at 2 pm. Tickets are free for SOU students, faculty, and staff.